Fantasy Book Review: Born of Illusion

Born of Illusion

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage shows and seances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians and mentalists in 1920s New York. For Anna, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini – or so Marguerite claims – handcuffs and sleight-of-hand illusions have never been much of a challenge. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her mother: because while Marguerite’s power may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna’s powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions of her mother in peril, which lead her to explore the abilities she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a society that studies people with gifts like hers, she begins to wonder if there’s more to life than keeping secrets.

As her visions become darker and her powers spin out of her control, Anna is forced to rethink all she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusions? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

Anna is a talented performer, even better than her mother who insists on being the center of attention. Anna feels obligated to protect her flighty and frivolous mother. And Anna especially wants to keep her actual psychic abilities a secret. Cole is a mysterious young man who share chemistry with Anna. But there’s also Owen who is fun and lets Anna be carefree for a while. Meanwhile, Houdini is in town. Anna has mixed feelings towards him. She isn’t sure he’s her father yet feels a connection to him. And he’s also her competition – while he debunks her livelihood.

Born of Illusion is a dark and beautiful tale of mystery, drama, and romance. It’s a coming of age story, where Anna blossoms and finally takes a stand. This standalone fantasy is unique and captivating. I love reading about Houdini, and appreciated how the author approached his character in the story – with a nice homage and several historical facts. Events build to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. Though it works well as a standalone, there were a few questions left unanswered that will leave readers eager for the next in this captivating new series.

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